Alumni Spotlight: Amber Day Padgett
Amber Day Padgett is what one would call a loyal Clemson University alumni. She graduated in May 2013 with her Bachelor’s degree in English and then again in May 2016 with her Master’s degree in Professional Communication. She has been working for the University ever since. However, Amber’s blood did not always bleed orange. In fact, she had not even considered applying to Clemson until right before it was time for her to apply in the fall of her senior year. She was a first-generation college student, mainly looking at the College of Charleston until one of her favorite high school teachers encouraged her to apply to Clemson because believed a degree from Clemson would set her up for success in the future, and it did just that. Writing had always been a passion of Amber’s since she was young, so when it came time to pick a major, the English department was a no-brainer. She has had several teachers and mentors along the way that have helped her discover her career path including her experience as a Pearce Center for Professional Communication intern. I recently had the pleasure of asking Amber a few questions about her journey as an English major and where it has brought her as an alumnus today. Here is what she told me:
What did you enjoy most of being an English major?
I really enjoyed the opportunities to closely analyze literature and develop strong writing skills, but also the opportunities to take more related courses like Technical Editing, which have definitely helped me throughout my career. I am also very grateful for all the professors who encouraged me to think critically, challenge my assumptions about the world and society, and always seek opportunities to learn new things and gain knowledge. While I genuinely enjoyed the experiences I had with all of my English professors, a few who stand out are Angela Naimou, Mike LeMahieu, Elizabeth Rivlin, and David Blakesley. I was also very fortunate to be mentored by Ashley Fisk during my time as a Pearce Center Intern and learned so much from her through that experience as well.
What career did you want to pursue when you got to Clemson? Did this change when you graduated?
I was initially thinking about a career in journalism when I came to Clemson, but that pretty quickly shifted to a focus on publishing. I was pretty sure that was a path I wanted to pursue up until close to graduation, but it is a challenging industry to break into. I think if I had been brave enough to move to a major publishing city like New York or Boston and just pound the pavement until I could find a job in the industry, I might have been able to break in. I still haven’t entirely given up on my dream of working in publishing, so maybe I’ll be able to find a way to do some freelance work in that field someday.
What was your favorite memory during your time at Clemson?
One of my favorite courses was Dr. Michael LeMahieu’s Critical Writing about Literature course – we studied the book Atonement by Ian McEwan, which quickly became my favorite novel and sparked my lasting love for all of McEwan’s books!
What is your current role? And where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My current role is the Assistant Director of Communications for Undergraduate Admissions at Clemson. My current position is new for the Admissions department and will allow me to build a communication strategy for prospective students. Since I’m just getting started with this role, I see myself in pretty much the same place in five years. When I was a student at Clemson, I remember something that Dr. Jonathan Field (aka JBF) was always saying; some career paths for English majors aren’t as obvious as someone who majored in something like turfgrass management. But that just meant that we had more opportunities to define our own future, try new things, and use the foundational skills our degree provided us to find success. I’ve always remembered that advice, and it has definitely been true for me throughout my post-graduation years thus far.
What is one piece of advice you might give to a Clemson student in the English Department?
My advice would be to seek out opportunities to gain real-world experience while you’re in college; this may be in the form of an on-campus internship through the UPIC program in a unit like University Relations where you can write stories for the Clemson Newsstand or assist with social media strategy. These experiences not only help you build your resume but can also help you think about the type of career you’d want to pursue after graduation if you’re unsure!
Written By: Jordin Tedesco